Friday, April 18, 2014

a giant leap for humanity

One of the contentions held against Christianity is its exclusiveness.  We are being too narrow and exclusive to say that this one way is the only right way to approach God.  Doesn't this give offense to other cultures and other religions?

It depends on whether we are considering Jesus' accomplishments merely as the work of a man within a culture for people within a culture, or whether this is something much greater. 

When Americans first walked on the moon, Neil Armstrong said, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."  In such momentous historical events, one does not say something like, "one small step for an American, one giant leap for Americans."  (Or Russians, or Pakistanis, or any nationality...)  Armstrong and Aldrin were Americans, but what they were doing transcended any nationality and was an accomplishment representing -- and celebrated by -- all of humanity.  That moment transcended any particular culture.  

When Jesus died he did not die merely as a Jew for other Jews, but as a human, a human in the fullest sense, for other humans.  And when he rose -- and he is the only one to do so with credible historical witness -- he rose for all mankind.  All cultures have this in common: the image of God upon them, but lost in sin and needing redemption.  Our very deepest human needs and problems aren't culture-specific.  Sin is a human problem.  

So Christianity is not culture-bound.  It's not about any culture in particular.  It is about God coming down in human form to do for all of us -- regardless of ethnicity -- what we could not possibly do for ourselves.  Jesus' resurrection from the dead is the confirming seal that God has accepted his death on our behalf. 

So the resurrection turns Christianity from being one religion among many to something very unique in its claim and accomplishment: Jesus is the first to rise, the first of a new Humanity.  He is risen, and ruling, and coming again!

[Photo above of Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the moon, Wikimedia Commons.]

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